California town asked to return a beachside hotel

The City of Santa Monica is being asked to return the land to a family from whom it was eminent domain-ed under pretense.

The land where the Vice Roy Hotel currently stands, on the corner of Ocean Ave and Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica, California, was once the property of a man named Silas White. White had purchased the former Elk's Club location to turn it into the Ebony Beach Club—a place where the flourishing local Black community could socialize. Shortly thereafter, the City of Santa Monica embarked on a plan to use eminent domain to erase this Black community. White's property was purchased under the guise of a need for more parking. Still, just a few short years later, it was developed to become a four-star hotel.

"He wanted it to be a haven for Black and also brown people, and people of color, period, where they could go and relax and enjoy themselves," White said. 

While the story of what happened went unspoken for decades, the family recently caught wind of what happened thanks to the organization Where Is My Land?

The group was founded by Kavon Ward and is aimed at identifying cases of land theft of Black landowners across the country. Ward started the group after launching Justice for Bruce's Beach, which successfully lobbied Los Angeles County to return the beachfront property to the Bruce family, which had its land taken away by the City of Manhattan Beach through eminent domain in the 1920s.

"We don't want apologies. We don't want another plaque," said Ward, who is now focusing her efforts on the White family's case. "And if you do provide that, we want that in conjunction with true justice, which is a land return and compensation for decades of wealth lost."

NBC LosAngeles

The City Santa Monica has built a park and put up some signs recognizing what happened decades before was wrong. The city has also vowed to find ways to help bring back families displaced by its actions. Santa Monica still owns the property and the family of Silas White would like it back. We will see where this goes. It is super disappointing that only one City Councilperson attended the meeting with the family.